208 Commonwealth was designed by Allen and Kenway, architects, and built in 1885-1886 by David Connery & Co., masons and builders, one of two contiguous houses (206-208 Commonwealth) designed by Allen and Kenway but built by different builders.
208 Commonwealth was built as the home of Henry Clay Jackson and his wife, Maria Amanda (Moulton) Jackson. He is shown as the owner of 208 Commonwealth on the original building permit application, dated August 26, 1885, and on the final building inspection report dated December 15, 1886.
The house was built on a 27 foot 6 inch wide lot that Henry Jackson assembled through three purchases. On May 15, 1885, he bought the bulk of the land, a 26 foot wide lot, from Alexander B. Wilbor, who had purchased it from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on November 6, 1884. On May 16, 1885, Henry Jackson purchased a one foot strip to the east from Charles Edwin Stratton, Jr. (who had purchased it from the Commonwealth on December 2, 1884), and on June 4, 1885, he purchased a six inch strip to the west, including the eastern half of the party wall with 212 Commonwealth, from Benjamin W. Munroe (part of the lot Benjamin Munroe had purchased from the Commonwealth on June 2, 1885).
Click here for an index to the deeds for 208 Commonwealth, and click here for further information about the land between the south side of Commonwealth and Alley 433, from Exeter to Fairfield.
On November 29, 1885, the Boston Globe reported that “Messrs. Allen & Kenway are building a house for Mr. Henry C. Jackson on Commonwealth avenue, which illustrates the new building laws, with fire-proof floors, partitions and stairs. It will be surmounted by a very ornate stone parapet.”
By the 1886-1887 winter season, Henry and Maria (Moulton) Jackson had made 208 Commonwealth their home. His sister, Harriet Jackson, lived with them. They previously had lived at 61 West Newton.
Henry Jackson was a wholesale dry goods merchant. He retired in 1893 and then served as president of the National Bank of North America until its liquidation in 1898.
Maria Jackson died in December of 1907.
Henry Jackson continued to live at 208 Commonwealth until his death in May of 1922.
Henry and Maria Jackson had no children, and 208 Commonwealth was inherited by his brother, Paul Wilde Jackson. He and his wife, Matilda Adelaide (Hibbard) Jackson, lived in Braintree. On January 31, 1924, he transferred the property to the Old Colony Trust Company as trustee on his behalf.
On April 22, 1924, 208 Commonwealth was acquired from the Old Colony Trust Company by Annette Stuart (Shaw) Hill, widow of Ernest Lawrence Hill. She lived there briefly with her son, Ernest; they previously had lived in Cambridge. In 1922, she had lived at 288 Marlborough. They had moved from 208 Commonwealth by 1925, but she continued to own the house and lease it to others.
By 1925, 208 Commonwealth was the home of Miss Arthena Wiggin. She had lived at 317 Dartmouth in 1924. She had moved by 1926; at the time of the 1930 US Census, she was living in Marblehead.
By 1926, 208 Commonwealth was the home of Edward P. Hicks and his wife, Maud L. (Gatchell) Hicks. They previously had lived at 29 Fairfield.
Edward Hicks was a salesman, and Maud Gatchell Hicks was director of the Academy of Speech Arts, which she had founded in 1922 and operated first at 29 Fairfield and then at 208 Commonwealth. The Academy taught classes in voice building, dramatic art, oratory, and related subjects.
Both the Hicks and the Academy continued to be at 208 Commonwealth in 1930.
By 1931, Edward and Maud Hicks (and the Academy) had moved, and 208 Commonwealth had become Annette Hill’s home. She previously had lived at the Hotel Vendôme. She also maintained a home in Scituate.
On November 24, 1931, 208 Commonwealth was purchased from Annette Hill by real estate dealer and banker William J. Foley, The transaction was reported by the Boston Globe on November 29, 1931, which indicated that William Foley also acquired Mrs. Hill’s home in Scituate.
Annette Hill continued to live at 208 Commonwealth during the 1932-1933 winter season, after which she moved to 30 Gloucester.
On June 6, 1933, William Foley transferred 208 Commonwealth to W. J. Foley, Inc.
By 1933, William Foley had made 208 Commonwealth his home. He previously had lived in Jamaica Plain. He was unmarried.
Also living at 208 Commonwealth from about 1933 were Joseph Luther Moulton, a real estate broker, and his wife, Alice W. (Hopkinson) Moulton, an artist. They previously had lived in an apartment in The Torrington at 384 Commonwealth.
William Foley and the Moultons continued to live at 208 Commonwealth in 1934, but moved thereafter. By 1935, the Moultons were living at 395 Beacon.
On October 29, 1934, the Franklin Savings Bank of the City of Boston foreclosed on a mortgage given b y William Foley and took possession of 208 Commonwealth.
By 1936, 208 Commonwealth was the home of Edith M. Green, and her sisters, Grace L. Green and Katherine M. Green. They operated it as lodging house. They previously had lived and maintained a lodging house at 270 Newbury. Grace Green died in 1939.
On May 21, 1942, 208 Commonwealth was acquired from the Franklin Savings Bank by John E. Baginski, and on the same day he conveyed the property to real estate dealers Warren-Stevens, Inc.
Edith Green and Katherine Green continued to live at 208 Commonwealth and operate it as a lodging house until Edith Green’s death in 1944. Katherine Green moved soon thereafter.
On June 15, 1944, 208 Commonwealth was acquired from Warren-Stevens, Inc., by Mrs. Margaret Frances (Lyons) Garside, the former wife of George H. Garside, who operated it as a lodging house. She previously had lived at 121 Beacon. She continued to live at 208 Commonwealth in 1946, after which she moved briefly to 320 Commonwealth and then purchased and moved to 432 Marlborough.
On March 1, 1946, 208 Commonwealth was acquired from Margaret Garside by Dr. Bernard Appel, a dermatologist, and his wife, Doris (Leavitt) Appel, a sculptor. They lived in Lynn, and by 1947 would move to 470 Beacon. They may have lived briefly at 208 Commonwealth.
On November 4, 1946, 208 Commonwealth was purchased from the Appels by Paul Bromley (born Paul Bloomberg). He and his wife, Eleanor Ayres (Magrane) Smith Bromley, made it their home. They previously had lived in an apartment at 68 Commonwealth.
Paul Bromley was a travel and airline agent, restaurant operator and theatrical promoter. In his July 23, 1986, Boston Globe obituary he was said to have “operated a number of entertainment bars and restaurants” and to have “established the nation’s first discotheque in the old Vendome Hotel in the 1930s … he had telephones installed on every table and customers could dial a number to order drinks and request songs.” Later, he would become a sales representative for the Designers Knitting Company.
In September of 1946, he filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert 208 Commonwealth “temporarily” from a lodging house into a single-family dwelling. In October of 1946, he amended his earlier permit to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into four apartments. And in January of 1947, he further amended the permit to increase the number of units from four to five, adding an apartment in the basement.
Eleanor Bromley died in December of 1949. Paul Bromley continued to live in one of the apartments at 208 Commonwealth. In 1952, he married again, to Lucille R. Jones. On November 29, 1957, he transferred 208 Commonwealth into his and his wife’s names.
By May of 1960, when he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to install fire balconies connecting with 206 Commonwealth, he indicated that the property contained six apartments.
On June 29, 1967, 208 Commonwealth was acquired from the Bromleys by Harry L. Cooper and his wife, Celia (Stone) Cooper. They lived in Newton.
On July 31, 1972, 208 Commonwealth was purchased from the Coopers by James R. Holland and his wife, Helen Devine Holland.
On August 20, 1986, they converted the property into six condominium units, the James R. Holland Condominium.